Techniques Safety Leaders Can Use for Difficult Conversations: Part 1
Safe behaviours and safe actions should be part of the everyday routine in workplaces. However, people are, well, people. Despite the best intentions and training, unsafe behaviour can still occur even in most safety-focused organizations. As a safety leader, how do you address safety issues with specific individuals? We reached out to coach and consultant Nadene Joy to learn how to have those hard talks in a productive, meaningful way that effect positive change.
“Good communication is key, first and foremost,” says Joy. “It can be hard to bring up a tough subject after an incident, near-incident or unsafe action, but it has to be done. The trick is to create rapport and trust, instead of confrontation.” The manager needs to use active listening techniques and clear speech and look for “why something happened” instead of simply “what happened.” Joy says the first 30 seconds will set the tone of the conversation, which can either create an open dialogue or close the door on anything productive. “Simple things like warm eye contact and using the person’s name can create instant connection,” says Joy. “You want to create a space for dialogue that is open and honest.”
Open-ended questions that ask for the employee’s perspective on the incident can help break the ice. The idea is to gather valuable information instead of a surface understanding of the incident, and the word “how” can help delve into the matter. “Asking questions about ‘how this could have been prevented’ can help open people up instead of putting them on the defensive.”